Video and gallery: England's top village celebrates

RESIDENTS of England's Village of the Year have told of their delight at winning the prestigious award - the first time somewhere in Suffolk has received the accolade.

Lizzie Parry

RESIDENTS of England's Village of the Year have told of their delight at winning the prestigious award - the first time somewhere in Suffolk has received the accolade.

Levington, near Ipswich, with a population of 280 people, was celebrating yesterday following the announcement on Tuesday night.

Villagers packed the local pub, The Ship Inn, to revel in their success and enjoy the community spirit which they believe won them the title.


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David Long, parish council chairman, said he was “absolutely delighted” but admitted it still had not sunk in.

“It is a tremendous reflection of everyone who lives here,” he said. “It still hasn't sunk in yet. It is a tribute to everyone who lives in the village and who makes it such a lovely place.

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“Everyone takes such pride in the area and our environment and no-one needs to feel lonely because everyone takes an interest in each other, especially at this time of year.”

There is wealth of community activity in the village including coffee mornings, a monthly lunch club, gardening club and flower show, the WI and the history society, which started this year.

Mr Long said the key to their success was simply the community and the people.

“It is all down to talking with people and involving everyone in the village,” he said. “We have forums before and after our parish meetings to include people and allow people to voice their problems.”

But the win came as little surprise to one villager in particular.

Pat Pryke, parish councillor and co-ordinator of Levington's Village of the Year campaign, said the title was the “icing on the cake” and reward for lots of hard work.

“It is a great recognition of what all villagers do to make this place so special,” she said. “There are an enormous number of people who volunteer their time to organise and run events, litter picks, the 'adopt a beach' scheme and help at the church.”

One of the oldest residents - who has lived in the village his whole life - added he would not want to live anywhere else.

Max Ralph, 78, said “It means a great deal to me having lived here all my life. Over the years I have seen a big improvement in community involvement. There are so many things going on and the newsletter is read by everybody, everyone knows what's going on.”

It is not just the residents of Levington singing their praises - barman at The Ship Inn, Steven Rudland, of Ipswich, said he loved working in the village.

“I cycle here from Ipswich and I love the journey, it is a beautiful part of Suffolk and the people are an absolute joy to work with,” he said.

The village received about £11,000 for winning the competition, which was sponsored by Calor Gas.

Mrs Pryke said they had yet to decide what to spend the money on, but hinted it may be used to further improve village facilities.

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